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Sing, dance and clap

Children of all ages enjoy Blues with Brother Yusef as part of the Newport Beach Public Library's Summer Reading Program.

August 15, 2007|By Heidi Schultheis

In Tuesday's paper, the locations of the performances were incorrect in the On Break feature ("Sing, Dance and Clap"). The correct locations are: Brother Yusef will perform blues at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Crean Mariners branch, 1300 Irvine Ave., and Chazz Ross will perform percussion at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Balboa branch, 100 E. Balboa Blvd.***

Nine or 10 years ago, blues musician Brother Yusef anxiously stepped to the front of the room to perform for his daughter's preschool class. He had never before played for an audience of children.

"I wasn't sure how it would go over," recalled the musician, who now regularly performs at Downtown Disney for adult audiences. "But the kids got up and danced, they sang along with me, I did a lot of call and respond. The response was really positive. It showed that music is very accessible to everybody."

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Lucky for the Newport Beach Public Library and its popular Summer Reading Program, which ends Friday, the success Yusef experienced that day nearly a decade ago has led to countless blues performances for kids.

Children of all ages in the reading program danced, sang and clapped along with Yusef when he played at the library's Central Branch in June. He'll be back to perform again Wednesday morning.

And Yusef's show was just one of many well-attended events offered by the mystery-themed program this summer. Library Assistant Mara Cota cited other fun educational activities geared toward kids, including an exhibit about great white sharks, a show with live parrots and monkeys, face-painting on Saturdays and percussionist Marcus Miller's performance on Monday.

"We try to have a lot of variety in our programs, and we try to make sure there's something for everyone," Cota said. But, she acknowledged, "the sharks seemed to be very popular, and anything with animals, that really gets their attention."

Finding ways to turn kids' attentions toward reading and spending time at the library is what the program is all about. To achieve this goal, the library's summer program offers game sheets for children — from toddlers through sixth-graders — to complete as they read, or are read to, during the summer. This year, 2000 kids participated in the program.

As they completed the game sheet, they got to choose from prizes including toys, stickers, paperback books and food coupons. There were also weekly prize drawings for beach balls and stuffed animals. And then there's the big kahuna: the grand prize drawing.

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